“Mom, can I go over to my friend’s house and play?”, my daughter eagerly asks me after diligently completing her homework in order to play with her friend.
I want to answer with a casual “Yes”, but the protective parent in me runs through a series of questions in my head before I can answer. What are you going to be dong over there? Are her parents home? Is the dog nice? Is her home a safe place? What do they do with their guns? (they are hunters)Hmmmm. This last question deserves further reflection.
I am not a gun owner . I have never held a gun, shot a gun, or even seen a gun close up. So I have very little knowledge about the workings of guns. I probably could not load and shoot a gun to save my life. I do know, however, that they can be useful and harmful. Most of my contextual knowledge about guns is shaped by popular media for better or for worse. My limited knowledge and lack of comfort about guns puts me in an awkward position when I think about asking my daughter’s friend’s parents about the guns in their home. But it also makes the conversation necessary. I need to know the answers to basic questions such as “Where do you keep the guns in your home?”, “Do your children have access to the guns in your home?”, and “Is the ammunition kept in a separate and safe place?” in order for me to make responsible parenting decisions.
So how do I start and frame this conversation so that I do not seem accusatory or judgmental? I actually found a very useful article titled, Before the Playdate: the Gun Talk, that has given me tips and encouragement for starting this essential conversation. As parents of 21st century children, it is our responsibility to have these complex conversations. Hopefully, we find resolve in them rather than feeling unsettled by them.